St. Augustine and the quote: Jews "must be allowed to survive, but never to thrive"

I heard on NPR a story in which a Hasidic Jew quoted St. Augustine as saying that Jews “must be allowed to survive, but never to thrive”.

Does anyone have a source for this quote?

That is, a primary source?

All the online sources I searched point to an original source of an author named “James Carroll”, who attributed this sentiment to Augustine…but I don’t have the documentation of his original quote.

content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,93316,00.html

I heard on NPR a story in which a Hasidic Jew quoted St. Augustine as saying that Jews “must be allowed to survive, but never to thrive”.

Does anyone have a source for this quote?

That is, a primary source?

All the online sources I searched point to an original source of an author named “James Carroll”, who attributed this sentiment to Augustine…but I don’t have the documentation of his original quote.

content.time.com/time/magazin…,93316,00.html

New thread started with better thread title.

I found something refuting the statement.

The author of the book, Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism, Paula Fredriksen was interviewed for Bostonia (the Boston University alumni magazine).

She is quoted as saying:

Among people who bother to think about the history of anti-Semitism, Augustine’s reputation is based on the idea that Jews should be “allowed to survive, but not to thrive.” It’s always attributed to him, and it sounds like a sound bite. So — the word “allowed” implies superior power, “survival” is a reduced form of existence, and “not to thrive” means actively being kept in a situation of deprivation.

It’s always attributed to Augustine, and he never said it. But the sound bite has the power.

Perhaps you could find more in her book.

Perfect! Thank you.

Incidentally, I wonder what that would have sounded like in Latin, Augustine’s language. Would it have flowed as nicely and rhymed as it does in English? :hmmm:

A similar writing.

Exposition on Psalm 49 (Augustine)

  1. But of the enemies themselves what? Slay them not, lest sometime they forget Your law. He is making request for his enemies, he is fulfilling the commandment…Slay not them of whom the sins Thou slayest. But what is it to be slain? To forget the law of the Lord. It is real death, to go into the pit of sin; this indeed may be also understood of the Jews. Why of the Jews, Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Your law? Those very enemies of mine, that have slain me, do not Thou slay. Let the nation of the Jews remain: certes conquered it has been by the Romans, certes effaced is the city of them, Jews are not admitted into their city, and yet Jews there are. For all those provinces by the Romans have been subjugated. Who now can distinguish the nations in the Roman empire the one from the other, inasmuch as all have become Romans and all are called Romans? The Jews nevertheless remain with a mark; nor in such sort conquered have they been, as that by the conquerors they have been swallowed up. Not without reason is there that Cain, on whom, when he had slain his brother, God set a mark in order that no one should slay him. Genesis 4:15 This is the mark which the Jews have: they hold fast by the remnant of their law, they are circumcised, they keep Sabbaths, they sacrifice the Passover; they eat unleavened bread. These are therefore Jews, they have not been slain, they are necessary to believing nations. Why so? In order that He may show to us among our enemies His mercy. My God has shown to me in mine enemies. He shows His mercy to the wild-olive grafted on branches that have been cut off because of pride. Behold where they lie, that were proud, behold where you have been grafted, that lied: and be not proud, lest you should deserve to be cut off.

19. Scatter them abroad in Your virtue Psalm 58:11. Now this thing has been done: throughout all nations there have been scattered abroad the Jews, witnesses of their own iniquity and our truth. They have themselves writings, out of which has been prophesied Christ, and we hold Christ. And if sometime perchance any heathen man shall have doubted, when we have told him the prophecies of Christ, at the clearness whereof he is amazed, and wondering has supposed that they were written by ourselves, then out of the copies of the Jews we prove, how this thing so long time before had been foretold. See after what sort by means of our enemies we confound other enemies. Scatter them abroad in Your virtue: take away from them virtue, take away from them their strength. And bring them down, my protector, O Lord. The transgressions of their mouth, the discourse of their lips: and let them be taken in their pride: and out of cursing and lying shall be declared consummations, in the anger of consummation, and they shall not be Psalm 58:12. Obscure words these are, and I fear lest they be not well instilled…

The Second Part.

1. For, behold, the Jews are enemies, whom this Psalm seems to imply; the law of God they hold, and therefore of them has been said, Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Your law: in order that the nation of Jews might remain, and by it remaining the number of Christians might increase. Throughout all nations they remain certainly, and Jews they are, nor have they ceased to be what they were: that is, this nation has not so yielded to Roman institutions, as to have lost the form of Jews; but has been subjected to the Romans so as that it still retains its own laws; which are the laws of God. But what in their case has been done? You tithe mint and cummin, and have forsaken the weightier matters of the law, mercy, and judgment, straining a gnat, but swallowing a camel. Matthew 23:23-24 This to them the Lord says. And in truth so they are; they hold the law, hold the Prophets; read all things, sing all things: the light of the Prophets therein they see not, which is Christ Jesus. Not only Him now they see not, when he is sitting in Heaven: but not even at that time saw they Him, when among them humble He was walking, and they were made guilty by shedding the blood of the Same; but not all. This even today we commend to the notice of your Love. Not all: because many of them were turned to Him whom they slew, and by believing on Him, they obtained pardon even for the shedding of His blood: and they have given an example for men; how they ought not to despair that sin of whatsoever kind would be remitted to them, since even the killing of Christ was remitted to them confessing…

newadvent.org/fathers/1801059.htm

St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14

How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!

patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/11/anti-semitism-in-the-church-fathers-catholic-history.html

Thanks.

Did you see this response to the above?

The passage from St. Augustine, however, is not even anti-Judaism, but is a vehemently expressed desire that Jews who are opposed to Christianity would be converted.

From the source originally cited by JPUSC

So when Augustine used such language, he meant nothing by it?

He could mean many things by it, but often he’s dealing in what you might call “rhetorical Jews” rather than real Jews. It’s also important to remember that for much of Augustine’s lifetime Jews were Roman citizens with the rights of citizens. This begins to change in the late fourth century, when the Emperor decides to link government closely with one particular form of Christianity — a big faith-based initiative. But the real social disenfranchisement of Jews occurred long after Augustine. Medieval persecutions and — much later — the Holocaust, were not events that Augustine could have imagined.

But still, his words helped shape that history, even if as an unintended consequence.

Yes. I hear my mother’s voice echoing in my head: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” Even some of the milder things he said had terrible consequences. There is a verse in Psalms, “bend down their backs always,” that he, reading Paul, applied to the Jews. He meant by this phrase that when Jews read the Bible, their posture was oriented “downward” toward this world rather than “upward” toward heaven. Much later, churchmen will misinterpret Augustine to be saying “Sit on Jewish backs until they bend.” The things that were later done on his authority were a horrifying misreading. And he himself would have been horrified.

content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1864878,00.html

“Don’t believe everything you hear on NPR or read on the internet.” -St. Francis de Sales

Good point about the rhyming.

I doubt he actually said it, but at the end of the day, would the basic philosophy behind that quote even be that controversial from a traditional Catholic perspective?

Here it is:

New Advent, Fathers of the Church
Exposition on Psalm 59
St. Augustine

Source. Translated by J.E. Tweed. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.

  1. But of the enemies themselves what? Slay them not, lest sometime they forget Your law. He is making request for his enemies, he is fulfilling the commandment…Slay not them of whom the sins Thou slayest. But what is it to be slain? To forget the law of the Lord. It is real death, to go into the pit of sin; this indeed may be also understood of the Jews. Why of the Jews, Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Your law? Those very enemies of mine, that have slain me, do not Thou slay. Let the nation of the Jews remain: certes conquered it has been by the Romans, certes effaced is the city of them, Jews are not admitted into their city, and yet Jews there are. For all those provinces by the Romans have been subjugated. Who now can distinguish the nations in the Roman empire the one from the other, inasmuch as all have become Romans and all are called Romans? The Jews nevertheless remain with a mark; nor in such sort conquered have they been, as that by the conquerors they have been swallowed up. Not without reason is there that Cain, on whom, when he had slain his brother, God set a mark in order that no one should slay himGenesis 4:15 This is the mark which the Jews have: they hold fast by the remnant of their law, they are circumcised, they keep Sabbaths, they sacrifice the Passover; they eat unleavened bread. These are therefore Jews, they have not been slain, they are necessary to believing nations. Why so? In order that He may show to us among our enemies His mercy. My God has shown to me in mine enemies. He shows His mercy to the wild-olive grafted on branches that have been cut off because of pride. Behold where they lie, that were proud, behold where you have been grafted, that lied: and be not proud, lest you should deserve to be cut off.

19. Scatter them abroad in Your virtue Psalm 58:11. Now this thing has been done: throughout all nations there have been scattered abroad the Jews, witnesses of their own iniquity and our truth. They have themselves writings, out of which has been prophesied Christ, and we hold Christ. And if sometime perchance any heathen man shall have doubted, when we have told him the prophecies of Christ, at the clearness whereof he is amazed, and wondering has supposed that they were written by ourselves, then out of the copies of the Jews we prove, how this thing so long time before had been foretold. See after what sort by means of our enemies we confound other enemies. Scatter them abroad in Your virtue: take away from them virtue, take away from them their strength. And bring them down, my protector, O Lord. The transgressions of their mouth, the discourse of their lips: and let them be taken in their pride: and out of cursing and lying shall be declared consummations, in the anger of consummation, and they shall not be Psalm 58:12. Obscure words these are, and I fear lest they be not well instilled…

The Second Part.

1. For, behold, the Jews are enemies, whom this Psalm seems to imply; the law of God they hold, and therefore of them has been said, Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Your law: in order that the nation of Jews might remain, and by it remaining the number of Christians might increase. Throughout all nations they remain certainly, and Jews they are, nor have they ceased to be what they were: that is, this nation has not so yielded to Roman institutions, as to have lost the form of Jews; but has been subjected to the Romans so as that it still retains its own laws; which are the laws of God. But what in their case has been done? You tithe mint and cummin, and have forsaken the weightier matters of the law, mercy, and judgment, straining a gnat, but swallowing a camel. Matthew 23:23-24 This to them the Lord says. And in truth so they are; they hold the law, hold the Prophets; read all things, sing all things: the light of the Prophets therein they see not, which is Christ Jesus. Not only Him now they see not, when he is sitting in Heaven: but not even at that time saw they Him, when among them humble He was walking, and they were made guilty by shedding the blood of the Same; but not all. This even today we commend to the notice of your Love. Not all: because many of them were turned to Him whom they slew, and by believing on Him, they obtained pardon even for the shedding of His blood: and they have given an example for men; how they ought not to despair that sin of whatsoever kind would be remitted to them, since even the killing of Christ was remitted to them confessing…

newadvent.org/fathers/1801059.htm

Not sure what you mean by a “traditional Catholic perspective”, but it certainly is not something that is consonant with the Catholic perspective.

St. Augustine (cont’d):

7. They shall be scattered abroad in order that they may eat Psalm 58:15; that is, in order that they may gain others, in order that into their Body they may change believers. But if they shall not be filled, they shall murmur. Because above also he had spoken of the murmur of them, saying, For who has heard? And You, O Lord, he says, shall deride them, saying, Who has heard? Wherefore? Because, as nothing You shall count all nations. Let the Psalm be concluded. See ye the Corner Ephesians 2:20 exulting, now with both walls rejoicing. The Jews were proud, humbled they have been; Gentiles were despairing, raised up they have been: let them come to the Corner, there let them meet, there run together, there find the kiss of peace; from different parts let them come, but with differing not come, those of Circumcision, these of uncircumcision. Far apart were the walls, but before that to the Corner they came: but in the Corner let them hold themselves, and now let the whole Church from both walls, say what? But I will sing of Your power, and I will exult in the morning of Your mercy Psalm 58:16. In the morning when temptations have been overcome, in the morning when the night of this world shall have passed away; in the morning when no longer the lyings in wait of robbers and of the devil and of his angels we dread, in the morning when no longer by the lamp of prophecy we walk, but Himself the Word of God as it were a Sun we contemplate. And I will exult in the morning of Your mercy. With reason in another Psalm is said, In the morning I will stand by You, and I will meditate. With reason also of the Lord Himself the Resurrection was at dawn, that there should be fulfilled that which has been said in another Psalm, In the evening shall tarry weeping and in the morning exultation. For at even the disciples mourned our Lord Jesus Christ as dead, at dawn at Him rising again they exulted. For You have become my taker up, and my refuge in the day of my tribulation.

newadvent.org/fathers/1801059.htm

I mean, most of Catholic history we considered Catholicism to be the only true religion, the only path to salvation, and every other religion to be a path to damnation and a horrible insult to God.

In that context I could understand the idea that Judaism, as a religion, should not be allowed to thrive.

Unwilling Witnesses: St. Augustine and the Witness Doctrine

St. Augustine’s writing on Judaism was remarkably nuanced, deepening over the course of 30 years as his thoughts on scripture developed. His most lasting contribution to the topic was his “doctrine of Jewish witness,” often simply called “the witness doctrine,” which viewed the Jews not solely as “Christ-killers” to be condemned, but as a vital ingredient in the spread of Christianity. The doctrine came to be accepted by the Church, and informed subsequent order of protection by the Church for the lives of Jewish people.

In his sermon on Psalm 58, Chapter 18 of De Civitate Dei, Chapter 12 (and others) inContra Faustum Manicheum, and other works, he develops his theory that the Jews had a continuing role to play in salvation history, and that this role was to form a living testimony to the truth of Christian claims. Scattered throughout the Diaspora, they brought their own sacred texts with them. These texts (the Old Testament) carried the prophecies of Christ, and since they were borne by a people who were notoriously hostile to Christians, they had even greater veracity. A Christian could point to a Jewish text and say, “See, even our enemies attest to the prophecies.

thomaslmcdonald.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/st-augustine-and-the-jews

FOUNDATIONS OF ANTISEMITISM: AUGUSTINE AND CHRISTIAN TRIUMPHALISM

"…the very presence of the Jewish people in the world … puts a great question against Christian belief in a new covenant made through Christ.”

For a thousand years and more the Church remorselessly searched out Christian beliefs considered heresies, hunted down, tortured and murdered their adherents. So how explain the survival of Jews? Not until the twentieth century were the Jews subject to extermination as a group, and that by secular forces in the Christian West. Under religious authorities the Jews were persecuted, expelled, murdered; the Crusades saw whole communities put to the sword en route to “liberate” Jerusalem from the infidels. Spain forced its Jews to convert or be expelled. Later, and even after generations, those forced to convert and their descendents were suspected of being “insincere” in their Catholicism, tortured until the “confessed,” then burned at the stake. Yet heresies from Gnosticism and Montanism in the first and second centuries to Catharism in the eleventh were all ruthlessly suppressed. The emergence of Protestantism in the sixteenth century, the most serious heretical challenge to the Church proved too widespread to be suppressed. Europe’s Thirty Year’s War began as a religious conflict.

The Church’s problem with the survival of Judaism grew increasingly difficult beginning in the 4th century. Judaism was not, of course, a “heresy.” But the survival of Jews and Judaism in a post-messianic era posed a question of the legitimacy of Christian claims to be the “new” Israel; questioned even the role of Jesus as messiah.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430): For the new Church the continuing existence of the Jews demanded explanation. If the Jews exist it must be part of God’s plan, but how understand that plan? Augustine attempted to provide these answers in his City of God.

And while we may agree with the 18th century philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn’s pithy observation that, “but for Augustine’'s ‘lovely brainwave,we would have been exterminated long ago,” Catholic theologian Rosemary Reuther finds very little difference between Augustine’s basic beliefs and that of Chrysostom (Constantine’s Sword (p.219) discussed last week.

According to Augustine,

“Judaism, since Christ, is a corruption; indeed, Judas is the image of the Jewish people: their understanding of Scripture is carnal; they bear the guilt for the death of the Savior, for through their fathers they have killed Christ.”

If Augustine provided the theological rationale for preserving some Jews he also maintained that Christianity superseded Judaism, inherited Jewish scripture, history and most importantly, the Covenant with God. This was Augustine’s, “‘theory of substitution’ whereby the New Israel of the church became a substitute of ancient Israel…”

“the house of Israel which [God] has cast off… are themselves the builders of destruction and rejecters of the cornerstone [Jesus]… the Lord Christ distinguished between His faithful ones and His Jewish enemies [my emphasis, also below].”

Supersessionism was not, of course, an invention of Augustine. It likely originated with Paul’s assertion that circumcision of the heart substituted for the physical act. Tertullian, an early Church Father wrote, “Who else, therefore, are understood but we, who, fully taught by the new law, observe these practices,—the old law being obliterated…” Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho wrote, “…law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one.”

Augustine and a Jewish remnant: So the question before Augustine was, “If the church was the “spiritual,” the “new Israel,” for what purpose did “national,” the ancient Israel exist?” The answer, God allows the Jews to survive “debased,” “destitute” and “in dispersion,” as a warning to Christians. “The Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him,” were punished by God, their temple destroyed, Jerusalem leveled. God has allowed them to survive as a continuing punishment because they “bear the guilt for the death of the Savior, for through their fathers they have killed Christ.” Three centuries after the Matthew gospel the sentences that would haunt the Jews through the millennia, justification for continuing persecution, is affirmed and developed by perhaps Christianity’s greatest thinker and theologian!

Justifying Jewish survival as a living lesson for God’s gifts to his New Israel; the withholding of those gifts from His unforgiven and previous “chosen” people: in the end it appears Augustine was not yet himself convinced because, he went on,

“By their own Scriptures [Jewish survival is] a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ."…

In Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate Episcopal minister William Nicholls places Augustine’s approach to the question of Jewish survival in modern and socio-psychological terms:

“…the very presence of the Jewish people in the world … puts a great question against Christian belief in a new covenant made through Christ. The presence of this question, often buried deep in the Christian mind, could not fail to cause profound and gnawing anxiety. Anxiety usually leads to hostility.”

m.jpost.com/Blogs/The-Jewish-Problem—From-anti-Judaism-to-anti-Semitism/Foundations-of-antisemitism-Augustine-and-Christian-Triumphalism-365442

Yes. This is still correct. That’s what the Bible says. That’s what we profess

*Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus
*
Outside the Church there is no Salvation.

and every other religion to be a path to damnation and a horrible insult to God.

Er, no.

The Catholic Church has never professed “every other religion to be a path to damnation and a horrible insult to God”.

That’s the gist of what St. Augustine said: “Slay them not [the Jews]…scatter them abroad.”

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